A CEO in the making

How the Vice-Chancellor Leadership Scholarship is making big dreams possible

Meet the Vice-Chancellor Leadership Scholar with big plans for the future.

UOW Liverpool student Hussain Al Saaid is one of the 24 Vice-Chancellor's Leadership Scholars for 2023. The University of Wollongong (UOW) introduced the scholarship program in 2022 to inspire the next generation of young local leaders and give them the knowledge to become future change-makers for the Illawarra. The program is growing in popularity each year, and applications for the 2024 program are now open.  

It was Hussain's friend who inspired him to investigate UOW’s scholarship opportunities after seeing him apply for them at other unis. Applicants must submit a resume and answer two short questions on leadership. Shortlisted candidates then underwent a video interview, of which UOW selected two students for Western Sydney scholarship. Hussain was one of them.  

He explains that he awoke to a phone call from UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson advising him that he received the scholarship.  

"I was so happy. I was just blown away. A few days later, I received more information about the scholarship," he says.   

In addition to leadership training and professional development, students get a scholarship valued at $30,000 per year for the length of their undergraduate degree, global mobility pathways and academic guidance. They also receive mentorship from the Vice-Chancellor.  

"Trish is so nice to everyone. She's actually the best and humble too. The way she talks to us, guides us and gives us advice. She's very funny as well," Hussain says.

The art of networking

The scholarship program opens doors to places that students this age typically don't get access to. Students receive exclusive access to regular leadership workshops, attend formal events as UOW student representatives, and learn the valuable skill of networking.  

Just a few months ago, Hussain attended Government House, where he met the Govenor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Margaret Beazley. 

"She was really supportive and loved the idea of youthful leadership. She gave us advice on how to become better leaders in our fields," he says.  

Hussain says Professor Davidson has also helped the scholars to grow their communication skills, and she encourages them to have the confidence to speak to anyone from all walks of life. He never imagined being able to do this before the program, but he's now on his way to mastering the skill at just 19.   

"Ever since the scholarship was awarded to me, and I am sure other scholars also relate, I've grown a huge lot of confidence to go out there and speak to people I don't know, especially at networking events.  

"This scholarship has opened a lot of doors for me. In many ways, it's changed my life. It's given me so many opportunities to meet a lot of like-minded individuals. We all want to become the best we can.

Student life at UOW Liverpool

Hussain is studying a Bachelor of Computer Science at UOW Liverpool, which he says has made the transition from high school to university much easier.   

"The way I see it, especially for high school students coming straight in from school, it's a very easy process because it feels very similar to high school. You'll see familiar faces every day, and because it is a smaller campus, it's easier to make friends," he says.   

"You'll also never get lost." 

Plans for the future

One day, Hussain aspires to become a software engineer and, eventually, a CEO. He would like to found his own tech company that can potentially change lives, but that's probably a good 10 to 15 years from now. In the short term, he's hoping to go on a student exchange to Dubai in the Spring Session of next year.   

"At pretty much every networking event I've been to, everyone just mentions to study abroad," he says. 

He would also like to complete an internship as he feels this would put him in a good position to secure a job once he graduates.   

"If I can prove myself in my final year with an internship, I can perhaps secure that job," he adds.  

Like Professor Davidson, Hussain is very humble in his achievements. There is a hint of uncertainty in his voice when he speaks about the future, a feeling most students can relate to.  

However, unlike most, Hussain also has engineering managers of million-dollar companies requesting his resume after meeting at a networking event. Hussain is just stoked they noticed him.   

"It's those little connections that really make a difference in the future."  

"When I interviewed for the scholarship, I was asked what I wanted to do in the future. I mentioned wanting to be a CEO, but you obviously need experience for this. However, I feel like I am developing the leadership skills a CEO requires.”